Toronto Island Park Flood and Erosion Mitigation Project

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), in partnership with the City of Toronto, is undertaking a flood and erosion control study at Toronto Island Park.

To complete this study, TRCA will initiate a Class Environmental Assessment (EA), which provides the opportunity for input from the public and other stakeholders.

The goal of the project is to develop long-term flood and erosion mitigation measures to protect the park from the impacts of shoreline flooding.

Learn More About the Project

Project Background

Aerial view
Aerial view of Toronto Island Park. Source, TRCA, 2017.

Flooding Events

In the spring of 2017, water levels in Lake Ontario reached levels higher than had ever been measured since record-keeping began in 1918.

The effect of the high-water levels and associated flooding was felt along the entire length of Toronto’s waterfront — especially Toronto Island Park where over 800 residents, almost 30 businesses, and two schools were affected by rising waters.

TRCA and the City of Toronto worked to prevent flood damages by installing emergency mitigation measures, including over 45,000 sandbags, 1,000 meter bags, and a dozen industrial pumps.

Despite these efforts, Toronto Island Park was closed for almost three months in the spring and summer of 2017. The park experienced significant shoreline erosion, property damage, and debris accumulation as a result of the flooding event.

In the Spring of 2019, Lake Ontario once again experienced record-breaking water levels, exceeding the 2017 record by 10 centimeters. Thanks to lessons learned from the 2017 event, along with temporary measures put in place in 2018 — such as naturalized berms and sumps — flooding impacts were less severe, despite higher water levels.

While strategically placed short-term measures helped to reduce the impact of flooding in 2019, a long-term solution is still needed.

Due to the increasing frequency of high lake level events and the continued vulnerability of residents, businesses, and public spaces within the Toronto Islands, the City of Toronto has partnered with TRCA to undertake the Toronto Island Park Flood and Erosion Mitigation Project (the “Project”).

The goal of the Project is to develop long-term flood and erosion mitigation measures to protect the Toronto Islands from future high-water level and flooding events.

Flooding of the railroad track on Centre Island near Far Enough Farm. Source: TRCA, 2019.
Flooding along Cibola Avenue. Source: TRCA, 2019.
Installation of emergency flood protection, including sandbags and an industrial pump, at Algonquin Island. Source: TRCA, 2019.

Previous Studies

Following the 2017 high-water level event, TRCA in collaboration with the City of Toronto undertook the Toronto Islands Flood Characterization and Risk Assessment Project.

This study provides TRCA and the City of Toronto with an improved understanding of flood scenarios along with community and infrastructure vulnerabilities at Toronto Island Park. The results of the study will be used to support the development of long-term flood protection measures for vulnerable study areas as part of the Class EA.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PREVIOUS STUDIES.

2020 Emergency Works

Planning and implementation of the Project has been phased to expedite critical works on an emergency basis in order to maintain essential park services while the remainder of the Class EA planning process takes place.

A declaration order was issued to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and Conservation Ontario on February 19, 2020. This order allowed for works to take place in select locations on an emergency basis prior to completion of the Class EA.

TRCA implemented approved emergency works in the winter and spring of 2020:

  • Approximately 500 meters of roadway was raised along Lakeshore Avenue and Cibola Avenue to maintain emergency vehicle access.
  • 125 meters of beach curb was installed at Ward’s Island to provide protection to the ferry dock terminal and ensure safe use.
  • Temporary flood mitigation measures were installed at the Island Water Treatment Plant to help maintain plant operations.
Aerial view of flooding along a section of Cibola Ave. Source: TRCA, 2019.
Construction of emergency road raising works along Cibola Avenue in 2020. Source: TRCA, 2020.
Beach curb installed east of the Ward’s Island Ferry Terminal as part of the 2020 emergency works. Source: TRCA, 2020.

Study Area

The Project is located in Toronto Island Park and includes five main study areas across the park: Ward’s Island, Algonquin Island, Centre Island, Island Water Treatment Plant, and Roadways.

These study areas were selected based on the vulnerable areas previously identified through the 2018 Toronto Islands Flood Characterization and Risk Assessment Project.

The Class EA will identify specific work sites within these study areas and will also review whether any additional areas not currently identified should be included in the Project based on flood risk.

map of the Toronto Island Park Flood and Erosion Mitigation Project study area
Map of the study areas and roadways of concern included in the Toronto Island Park Flood and Erosion Mitigation Project. Source: TRCA, 2021.

Scope of Work

The Class EA Process

The Project is being planned in accordance with Conservation Ontario’s Class Environmental Assessment for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control Projects (amended 2013), which is the approved process for this type of undertaking.

As part of the Class EA, a study will be undertaken to develop and explore a range of potential alternative solutions for the identified study areas.

Read a general overview of EAs.

The Class EA process outlines the steps required to determine the preferred solution for addressing flood and erosion hazards while minimizing environmental impacts.

As part of the process, several alternative solutions are presented for a project and each alternative undergoes detailed technical evaluation as well as public review and consultation.

The goal of this review process is to identify a preferred solution which offers the best means to protect against flooding and erosion while mitigating other impacts that may result from the project.

Scope of Work

The scope of work for the Class EA will include the development of several alternatives and the selection of a preferred alternative for each of the study areas included in the Project.

As part of the scope of work, TRCA will undertake the following tasks:

  • Collect and review baseline environmental data
  • Establish a Community Liaison Committee (CLC)
  • Develop three (3) alternative solutions for each of the study areas
  • Evaluate the environmental impacts of each of the alternative solutions and select the preferred alternative for each study area
  • Host public engagement events to receive comments and feedback on the proposed solutions, including Public Information Centres (PIC)
  • Prepare and file an Environmental Study Report (ESR) that documents the process and reviews the impacts of each of the preferred alternatives

Following completion of the Class EA process as outlined above, the Project will proceed to detailed design development and permitting for priority areas as funding availability allows.

Public Consultation

The Class EA process guarantees opportunities for public and stakeholder participation throughout the planning stages of a project.

Public input is a fundamental part of the planning and design process for this Project and TRCA will be inviting members of the community to participate in this study through public and stakeholder engagement.

TRCA will distribute the following notices throughout the Class EA process:

  • Notice of Intent – issued when the Project is initiated and includes invitation to the public to participate in the Project
  • Advertising of public engagement events, including Public Information Centres (PICs)
  • Notice of Filing – issued when the study is completed and the ESR is submitted for 30-day review period to MECP
  • Notice of Project Approval – issued once the ESR has been approved following 30-day review period indicating the Class EA planning process has been completed

Information will be distributed through this website, Google ads, social media, on-site signage, and digital mailing lists.

Class Environmental Assessment Process Flow Chart
(Key stages for public involvement are highlighted)

Initiation of Class EA Process

Notice of Intent published Establish Community Liaison Committee (CLC)

Prepare baseline environmental inventory

Development of alternative solutions

Concepts presented for comment at CLC and Public Information Centre (PIC) meetings

Community input and comments will be used to refine alternative solutions.

Selection and refinement of preferred alternative solutions

Analysis of projected environmental impacts of preferred alternative solutions

Presentation of environmental impact analysis at CLC and PIC meetings

Community input and comments will be used to refine preferred alternatives.

Preparation of Environmental Study Report (ESR) to document impact analysis & public consultation

Filing of ESR for 30-day review period

EA Documents

Class EA documents will be available for viewing here following publication.

Project Updates

July 2021
TRCA has retained the coastal engineering firm, W.F. Baird and Associates Coastal Engineers Ltd. (Baird) through a competitive procurement process to support the Class EA study and provide technical expertise.

Contact Us

For more information regarding this project, please contact the Project Manager:

Rebecca Salvatore, Project Manager
Erosion Risk Management
Email: TorontoIslandFloodEA@trca.ca
Phone: (416) 661-6600 ext. 5516

This study is being completed in coordination with the City of Toronto’s Master Plan. Get more information on the Toronto Island Park Master Plan.